Monday, 19 February, 2018

Travelling to Iran as a Young American Woman

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By: Erin Amani

We were finally in Iran.

Right after we got off the plane were the lines for immigration. Us and our fancy Iranian passports marched right on over to the Iranian passport holders line.

“Um..I ethink the not Iranians go over there” - someone trying to skip us in line (which, by the way, happens ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE)

“Man Iranianam. Passport irani daram. Merci. / I am Iranian. I have an Iranian passport. Thank you” aka basically, I went all Rosetta Stone up on him.

It was finally our turn to go through and it was pretty uneventful. I received a smile, ‘hello’ and ‘welcome’ and we were off to catch a taxi for our 4 hour trek to Isfahan.

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Obligatory first photo in Iran

We went through a registered taxi company through the airport and agreed upon a price of about $100 for this cross-country trip.

I slept an hour or so while Mo stayed up. Our taxi driver was nice. He had some good music he was showing off on his mp3 player.

We finally arrived within Isfahan city limits when Mo called mamanjoon to tell her we’d be there within a hour or so. She got so excited and hung up the phone (presumably to get everything ready).

The taxi driver started to turn a little cranky and frustrated when he wouldn’t listen to the directions Mo was giving him and resulting in the driver getting us lost.

Mo said to me, “This is it, Erin. We are going to be there in 30 seconds. Are you ready? I’m going to video this.” I had butterflies exactly like I had right before our wedding almost exactly 1 year ago.

Hugs, Happy Tears & Kisses 

After an Esfand burning, a million hugs, juicy kisses and lots of doset darams / I love you’s, I took a tour of the home that my husband once spent much of his childhood in and where some of his best memories are.

Finally seeing everything really made Mo’s childhood stories come together.

But it hit hard - aghajoon wasn’t there in his usual seated position. I know that for Mo, this was rough. I was so grateful that I was able to be there and be supportive.

We spent the morning looking at each other, chatting, hugging, eating fruit and just totally blissed out that we were finally here together.

Later in the afternoon, I felt totally nauseous. I went upstairs and laid down and the next thing I know I’m puking into a plastic bag that had a hole in it. Then, I started to cry and totally panic. I literally just arrived and puked not only all over myself but all over mamanjoons bed.

I felt sooooo sick. I was sooooo anxious that I couldn’t stop shaking.

We decided to go to the hospital to at least get an IV. Last year around the same time I spent time in the hospital for this horrible stomach bug I had and I had been severely dehydrated so I was definitely concerned about that. Mo and his two uncles drove me to the hospital.

You walk into the hospital, right into the doctor’s office, tell him your symptoms and they write stuff on a piece of paper. This doctor wasn’t bad, but it was Friday night and he wasn’t very pleased to be there.

The orders? IV with some vitamins. Mo explained   that the men’s and women’s areas are separate in the hospital and that I might have to be without him. He assured me he’d explain everything to them and not to worry.

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Luckily, the nurses at the front desk saw how terrified and sick I was and let me go over into a private section in the men’s area so that Mo and his uncles could be around me. I was relieved.

The nurses were so nice, so curious about Am-rika and were truly concerned about me. After all, I was the first American they had ever met.

Only bad thing about this hospital? It was like 100 years old and the bathroom situation WAS.NOT.PLEASANT.

After a couple of hours, I still felt nauseous but with a new found hope that I just needed some sleep and I’d be all better.

We left the hospital and paid the bill. How much? $10.

Ughhh I’m sick

The next few days were somewhat of a blur. As my boss, Leonie, likes to call it (and it’s sooooo accurate), the holy trifecta struck. I was puking up things that I didn’t even know were in me and my body was a hot mess. Actually - I was a hot mess, too.
Nothing would stay in me and all I wanted was some Gatorade.It was horrible. My anxiety spiked up more than usual and I felt miserable.

Vooooooooy marisam // Ugh I’m sick!
BUT…At least I was with mamanjoon. I was finally there with her. Sick..but with her.

The next morning one of Mo’s uncles came over to take us to the cemetery where aghajoon is.

2I wasn’t feeling good and wasn’t going to go but I realized how important if was for me be there for Mo and for aghajoon.Hopped into the car and off we went. It was like aghajoon was there with us because for those 2 hours, I felt amazing. It felt like such a blessing to see aghajoon at rest in a beautifully adorned grave site.Mamanjoon showed me the old graves of her parents and siblings. The love this woman has is unbelievable. The things she has experienced and the life she has lived all while doing it for God - what a woman. She is a true angel.

3Since this was my first car ride in daylight, I soon realized the driving is out of this world. There are lanes but they aren’t respected. There are lights, but they seem to be for decoration. Oh and horns are like blinkers.Instead of freaking out, I just closed my eyes, said a prayer and just went with it.Once we got home, I got majorly sick…again. Without all the yucky details, I ended up in the hospital..again. Mo’s cousins took me back to the same hospital. This time the nurses knew me. We waved at each other and I cracked a smile through the tears.

4After another IV, a shot in my butt and some rest, I was on my way back again.The next few days were the same. I would be able to get out for 1 hour at a time and then feel violently ill. I toughed it out though and really made the best of those first 6 days or so even though both Mo and I truly considered coming home early. (Thank God we didn’t decide that!)It wasn’t until my third hospital visit (in a better hospital) that I started to get better. Apparently some stomach bug was going around/mixed with water/mixed with jetlag/etc and I just got lucky and got it! This hospital gave me the appropriate medication and a diet plan.

During this time, I got pretty close with Mo’s cousin, Azadeh, her husband Amir and their 2 kids (Omid - 9, Bahare - 12). They really helped take care of me and made sure I took my medicine on time and ate properly. Plus, they just made me feel at home. Plus, having a sweetheart like mamanjoon around and her prayers for me helped calm me.

5I was getting so much better. I was exhausted because of what my body had just been through but I was so happy.  THRILLED. THANKFUL and just in heaven.Check out the gallery below to see full images + captions from my first few days in Iran.(Mo joked in the hospital that he should’ve taken a picture and I crankily said no. Now I kind of wish we did!)

Final Thoughts
I’m going to be honest…I didn’t think I would enjoy Iran as much as I did.Don’t get me wrong - I knew I would like it.Unlike everywhere else I had ever traveled in this world, I never got to meet Mo’s family and see where he grew up in those places. This place felt like home. I was welcomed beyond belief by both family + strangers.

So different, yet so similar.When some people find out I was going to Iran/went to Iran, I didn’t/don’t expect them to know what the real Iran is like.That’s why I started this blog.I feel it is so important to share my experiences. I want people to know about this country I fell in love with - to put it on the tourist map.

I never once felt scared. I felt safer walking down busy streets in Isfahan than on my own street. When people would ask where I was from, they were surprised + happy to welcome me to their country and just curious about me and my life in the USA.

Something we tend to forget is every village, town, country, place in this world is filled with people working hard and just trying to get by. The way they do it or the amount of money they are making greatly varies, but at the end of the day, we are all citizens of this world.

I am very thankful for my life in sunny California, but I am also very envious of Iran. There’s something so special and so untouched about this nation.

I’ve been pretty privileged in being able to travel but I do have to say, Iran has been my favorite.

So much so, I am already planning my next trip back before the years end. 🙂 I figure that I might as well go back, do the job I love and just sit next to mamanjoon all while earning a living and making the world a better place.

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Erin’s blog

http://erinpoole.weebly.com

 

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